Scott students to host TEDxToledo followup on police shootingsWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sept. 18, sentencing scholar and University of Toledo law professor Jelani Exum began her TEDxToledo lecture “The Death Penalty on the Street” with a statistic: In 2012, more than 400 teenagers died in a shooting by a police officer.
“In fact, in recent years, even the most conservative estimates put those numbers between 300 and 400 killings by police officers a year in this country,” she said in her lecture.
The lecture was given a month after the death of Michael Brown, a teenager shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Exum tackled the controversial topic, admitting feelings of frustration. A video of her lecture in on TEDxTalk’s official channel on YouTube.
“I was frustrated as I heard arguments from both sides,” Exum said. “As I listened to the news and heard the discussions, I just kept thinking we’re missing something: There’s a sentencing issue here that we’re not talking about. There’s a sentencing issue that’s going without all the protections that we give to sentencing in our courts. This is the death penalty; it’s just the death penalty on the streets.”
Exum went on to argue that Brown was given the death penalty without a day in court, unable to say he was a human being deserving of life despite what he had done.
“In our system, even the most cold-blooded killer gets to do that,” Exum said.
Three months after Exum’s TEDxToledo talk, Brown’s death continues to drive high emotions from protesters and advocates on all sides of the issue.
Students at Scott High School chose it as a topic of discussion for the first of four TEDxToledo Post Conference events. The event, called “Stand Up,” will be Dec. 19 at Scott High School Community Hub, 2400 Collingwood Blvd. Topics at the conference will include interacting with police and forging good relations between police and the community. The daylong conference has been planned almost entirely by students.
The event will begin with a fellowship event at 8:30 a.m. with students, parents and community members.
Exum will appear at the event giving a similar presentation at 9:45 a.m. The presentation will be brought to new light with protests happening nationwide after New York man Eric Garner was killed by police in July and 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police in Cleveland in November.
At 11 a.m., there will be a student-moderated conversation consisting of a panel of students, a police officer and two community leaders. Questions will be presented during the discussion and anyone can contribute a question by emailing Scott High School’s Hub Director Candice Harrison at email@example.com.
Later in the day, a new program will be announced for youth interested in law enforcement. The event will conclude with a pep rally.
The event is planned so the conversations from Sept. 18 continue, Harrison said. She said it’s important to have an open dialogue to offer people different perspectives outside of social media.
“[With] Facebook and Twitter, you’re only going to get so far with that,” she said. “Actually talking face-to-face and getting an understanding of one another, understanding why everybody feels the way they feel, is the only way to even start to move forward and create real change.”
Harrison said it’s important to get the students’ perspective.
“They’re impressionable,” she said. “We’re turning them [into] the next generations of leaders. … It’s important that, whatever their opinions are, we’re hearing them.”
An estimated 600 people attended the TEDxToledo event in September, which was held at the West Toledo YMCA. The event was the third in the area with the goal of raising a level of conversation in Toledo, organizer Will Lucas said. Lucas added plans are in place for more annual conferences in the future.
“Each year our goal is to get better,” he said.
Anyone interested can RSVP for the upcoming follow-up event at tedxtoledo.rsvpify.com.